Living with cerebral palsy often means limited upper body dexterity, necessitating caregiver assistance even for basic tasks like drinking. Rice University engineering students Thomas Kutcher and Rafe Neathery have developed RoboCup to address this challenge.
Traditional solutions such as the “giraffe bottle”, while providing some autonomy, present an obtrusive, ever-present straw in front of the user. RoboCup introduces a mechanized solution that rotates the straw out of the user’s view when inactive. To drink, users simply engage a button or a sensor, prompting the straw to rotate into position.
A notable feature of RoboCup is its open-source design. With access to a 3D printer and foundational electronics knowledge, individuals can replicate the RoboCup for approximately $100. The central component is the Arduino Nano board, responsible for monitoring user input via a tactile button or distance sensor. This board, in turn, manages a servo motor that pivots the straw. All necessary components, barring those 3D printed, are standard and easily sourced. Powering the device is a compact rechargeable battery.
RoboCup exemplifies the convergence of 3D printing and electronics in creating affordable, tailored solutions for specific needs. If you would like to access the design files and instructions to make a RoboCup, you can do so by accessing this link at the product webpage.
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